Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ted Flowers Texas Star parade set

One of the most spectacular offerings in the 2011 Old West Show and Auction was this Ted Flowers Texas Star parade set.
Ted Flowers was one of the most prolific and best known parade saddle makers of the last century. Based in Indiana, he was most productive in the 1950's and 1960's, and his saddles were very popular among contestants showing in the Parade divisions at Saddlebred, Morgan and Palomino shows.
Like so much of Ted Flowers' work, this set features monel plating.  Monel is a nickel alloy containing copper, iron and manganese that is highly durable and resistant to corrosion.  The Texas Star pattern is one of the hardest to find and most desirable of the Flowers patterns.
A few construction details for the model tackmaker--unlike the Bohlin set featured in last year's auction, the serape buckles onto the saddle underneath the corona pad.
The stirrups are attached to the fender via a swivel and are covered with twenty eight inch tapaderos.
The inside of the tapadero is lined with sheepskin.
This beautiful parade set sold for just $5,500.  Compared to its sterling silver covered counterparts, that's a real bargain!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brian Lebel's Old West Show & Auction 2011

Since its move to the Denver Merchandise Mart in 2009,  Brian Lebel’s Cody Old West Show & Auction has become one of the highlights of my summer schedule.
It is impossible to overstate the sheer wealth of riches on display at this show.  Truly there is something for everyone with offerings that include all kinds of Western memorabilia from vintage movie posters,
to retro cowboy boots,
a full set of first edition books by Will James,
some of which were autographed,
and a guitar that was custom made for Dale Evans,  
There were no Breyers to be found...
but Teresa and I did sniff out a few interesting horse shaped objects.
We also found this beautiful china bull...
and a tee pee that reminded both of us of Lu Heater!
Of course there was also a lot of tack horse equipment, including bits both new...
and old,
all kinds of spurs,
too many hitched horse hair prison bridles to count,
and a $95,000 Heiser-Keyston parade saddle.
Some of the booths were mini museums with beautiful, well thought out displays.
Others were more reminiscent of a wonderfully jumbled attic.
Sawbuck pack saddles were utilized in all sorts of creative ways to display everything from firearms...
to books.
I'm always partial to things that come with a story.  This old saddle would have been photo worthy all by itself... 
but the documentation makes it so much more interesting.
Of course not all documentation is created equal...
Still, I think I love this tag even more than I love the old saddle bags it describes!
I will start posting details pictures of some of the better auction pieces later this week.  In the meantime, here's a teaser for all the tack lovers!
Next year's edition of the Old West Show is scheduled for June 22-24.  Model tackmakers, mark your calendars!  This event is worth the trip and I'd be happy to play host for the weekend. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Miniature horse hunters, part two

Before the start of a miniature horse hunter class, the exhibitors are invited to walk the course with the course designer, judges and ring stewards.
Once the course walk is completed, it's time for the class to begin.  One by one, the horse and handler teams line up at the starting cones...
and head for the first jump.  Contestants may compete at a brisk trot...
or a canter.  
Whichever gait they choose, it's important to stay with it for the entirety of the class.   Preference is given to those horses who cover the course at an even pace and horses who break gait will be penalized.
I'm assuming jumping style is also judged, but that was not specifically mentioned in the the American Shetland Pony Club and the American Miniature Horse Registry rulebook.  
The class ends as it began, with the horse and handler passing through the cones. 
Causes for elimination in the Hunter class include going off course, circling between jumps, three refusals,
jumping obstacle by handler, carrying a whip, an unsound horse and fall of either horse or handler.
Major faults include knockdowns, touches, refusals, bucking or kicking, spooking or shying, wringing of tail, not maintaining an even pace and charging the fences.
As noted earlier, handlers are not allowed to jump the fences with their horses.  Instead, they swing out around the left side of the fence...
and lift the lead over the standard as the horse jumps.
The handler's hand follows the horse's head in the air and most handlers maintain light but consistent contact with their horse throughout the course.
Of course this all easier said than done, especially when the jump standards are nearly as tall as you are!
I can not tell a lie--I have fallen head over heels in love with miniature horse hunters.
This probably won't be the last time you see them on this blog!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Miniature horse hunters, part one

Most miniature horse shows offer hunter and jumper classes.  Like their full sized counterparts, miniature hunters are judged on their style, manners and way of going.  Unlike big hunters, the minis are led rather than ridden.
Tack requirements for this class are simple--the horse must wear a halter and lead.  Most of the competitors used a Western style show halter with silver plates.
However, a few horses wore plain leather halters, 
Arabian style show halters, 
or nylon halters.
No matter what type of halter, nearly every competitor used a flat leather lead shank, with or without a chain.
Although not required, a lot of the hunters are shown with braids.
Rather than hunt coats, tall boots and breeches, handlers wore Western type showmanship outfits minus the Western hat...
and in most cases, the cowboy boots.  Miniature horse hunter classes involve a lot of running so comfortable shoes are a must!
Classes are divided by the handler's age and experience.  At the Rocky Mountain Classic Show held last week in Estes Park, Colorado there was an Amateur Hunter class,
an Open class, 
and two separate Youth classes.
Miniature horse hunter courses include a minimum of four and a maximum of six fences.  Fences range from twelve to twenty four inches in height and five to six feet in width.  All jumps must include a ground line and standards can be no higher than forty inches.  Most of the hunter jumps at the Rocky Mountain Classic looked like this:
Additionally, there was a green roll top...
and a brick wall.
Also worth noting--striped poles are not a problem for miniature hunters.  They'll jump anything!
Up next--miniature horse hunters on course!